There are plenty of available free agents still looking for contracts as the new year approaches, and plenty of them have ties to the Toronto Blue Jays.
I can’t believe I’m still saying this, but we’ve gone another day without a significant free agent signing in the MLB. The market is moving like a snail stuck in molasses, as nearly all of the top free agents are still waiting for a suitable offer. We’re getting increasingly used to seeing agents wait out the market, but we’ve never seen this many prepared to head into January without a new contract.
I don’t want to rehash the top players that are still available (note: It’s nearly all of them except Carlos Santana, who signed with the Phillies), as it feels like we’ve been allowed more than sufficient time to dream about guys like Lorenzo Cain or Yu Darvish ending up in a Blue Jay uniform. Instead, I noticed another fact about the overflowing free agent market: there are a lot of former Blue Jays available.
Instead of just posting a list below, I thought it might be fun to put together a lineup consisting of former Blue Jays who are still looking for a gig. I tried to keep it to players who are still available as of this writing, although I did have to make an exception or two. With that criteria, here’s what we’ve got to work with.
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- Jose Reyes– 2B
- Melky Cabrera– LF
- Jose Bautista– RF
- Adam Lind– 1B
- Michael Saunders/Mike Napoli– DH
- Yunel Escobar– 3B
- Ryan Goins– SS
- Raffy Lopez– C (MiLB deal with SD)
- Rajai Davis– CF
This lineup would have been kinda scary if you were looking at a manager’s card from 2013 instead of today. Most of the players to crack the game day roster are on the wrong side of 30, or even 35 in some cases, and their talent levels have regressed from their respective peaks.
Out of the whole list, Melky Cabrera, Yunel Escobar, and Jose Bautista are probably the only ones with a legit chance of finding a starting gig, but even that’s no guarantee. Also if you’re wondering, Napoli was technically a Blue Jay, though he never played a game for the club. He was acquired in 2011 in the Vernon Wells trade to Anaheim, and was immediately flipped to Texas for reliever, Frank Francisco.
1B/DH– Mike Napoli
SS/2B– Darwin Barney
OF– Norichika Aoki
I put Napoli on the bench here as part of the DH platoon, and have a few other spare parts to round out the offence. Darwin Barney is a capable utility man, and Aoki would serve as a reasonable 4th outfielder. The though to of rostering Miguel Montero is pretty rough, but the pickings were slim at catcher.
SP- R.A. Dickey
SP- Brett Anderson
SP- Drew Hutchison
SP- Scott Feldman
Dickey might end up retiring, but if not he would lead this fantasy group of starters. Brett Anderson showed flashes of talent last year in a September cameo with the Blue Jays, and might even earn an invite back to compete for the fifth starter’s job because of the upside he displayed.
After that we’ve got Liriano, who could be facing a move to the bullpen in the future, as he did after the trade to Houston this year. Hutchison and Feldman round things out, and both will be looking for an opportunity to earn a starting spot in 2018. It won’t be as easy as it is on this made up squad, that’s for sure.
RP- Joaquin Benoit
RP- Jesse Chavez
RP- Brandon Morrow (signed with the Cubs on a two year deal)
RP- Dustin McGowen
RP- Drew Storen
RP- Jason Grilli
RP- Joe Smith (signed with the Astros on a 2 year deal)
I had to dip into the pool of players already signed in order to round out the bullpen. Morrow has already signed with the Cubs and Smith with the Astros, which makes sense after the productive season’s they each had.
After that we’re looking at a bunch of aging right-handed arms. Benoit was great for the Blue Jays in 2016, but is now on the wrong side of 40. McGowan made 63 appearances for the Marlins last year, but ended up struggling to a 4.77 ERA. Storen wasn’t much better at 4.45 in 58 appearances, and as most of us remember, Grilli was cut from the Blue Jays despite being a fan favourite. With the exception of the arms already signed, the above group will likely be looking to non-guaranteed deals with a spring training invite.
So there you have it. Did I miss someone significant? Are there any players on this list the Blue Jays should consider bringing back? Considering the options still available on the market, my guess is that almost all of the players listed above will still be looking for a contract in February.